Veteran Alaska Mushers Register for U.P. 200

The U.P. 200 Sled Dog Race will include Alaska mushers Tim Osmar and Monica Zappa. They are the only Alaskans among the registered racers. They are also running the Apostle Islands race in Bayfield and the Kearney Sled Dog Race in Ontario.

Along with a win on the trail, they’re mushing to raise awareness of the

serious threats to the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery from a massive open-pit mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. Osmar is a veteran musher who has won the Yukon Quest and completed the legendary Iditarod 23 times.

The mushers, both commercial salmon fishermen, plan to donate a

share of any winnings to the Save Bristol Bay campaign.

“We’re thrilled to compete in the Midwest and bring a message that the

world’s best sockeye salmon fishery shouldn’t be sacrificed to a massive

open pit copper and gold mine,” said Tim Osmar. “We need to show the rest of the country that Bristol Bay and its vast salmon are a national resource that must be protected.”

Tim and Monica, who are available for interviews, are also holding an event on Monday, Feb. 20 in Marquette. They will show the award-winning documentary “Red Gold,” about the people who depend on the world’s largest sockeye run, at 7 p.m. in the Mead Auditorium, West Science Building, Northern Michigan University.

The screening is sponsored by Fred Waara Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the NMU Piscatores. $5 suggested donation.

Up to 60 million sockeye salmon return to the Bristol Bay watershed each year, supporting thousands of fishing jobs and businesses, countless wildlife, and a subsistence catch for Alaska Natives. Bristol Bay is also a sport fishing paradise, with ample runs of trophy rainbow trout and other species. The proposed Pebble Mine would dig a pit at least 3 miles wide and 2,500 feet deep (1,000 feet taller than the Sears Tower). It would create some 10 billion tons of toxic waste requiring treatment and storage forever behind towering earthen dams in an area known for earthquakes and other natural disasters.

“Just like Alaskans, people in the upper Midwest understand the importance of fishing and hunting, and surviving on the food that you catch,” Zappa said. “We believe they will join us in opposing this threat to our lives and livelihoods.”